Muslim Public Affairs Council, April 13, 2007
The Muslim Public Affairs Council commends major news networks for pulling the plug on Don Imus’ radio show after his racist statements about the Rutgers Womens Basketball team. After referring to the women on the Rutgers basketball team as “nappy headed hos” MSNBC and its parent company, NBC Universal initially ordered a two week suspension on Imus but later cancelled his show. A day later, CBS followed suit and cancelled this show also.
Imus has had a 40 year history of bigoted and sexist comments over the span of his career. What finally led the networks from merely suspending the show to outright canceling Imus’ hatred spewing from the radio waves? A national outcry. The pressure applied from activists such as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and CBS/NBC affiliates such as Al Roker and Ron Allen got the attention of the networks. While the withdrawal of Imus’s biggest advertisers, such as General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, and American Express removed any financial incentive for MSNBC to keep the show on the air, the power of coalitions and the protest from various communities around the country were the final push needed to pull the plug.
Imus clearly crossed the line of acceptable discourse. News organizations routinely allow journalists to cross the aforementioned line and the Muslim community has bore the brunt of such attacks by the likes of people such as Glenn Beck and Dennis Prager. This outcome is a victory for all communities who fight back against racism and misrepresentation by the media. This is a clear example on how communities can combat racism and bigotry from spewing into the radio waves. When communities and groups pool resources and work together, the major networks are forced to listen.
MPAC is fighting this battle along with other organizations in saying that we will not allow journalists such as Don Imus and Glenn Beck to make racists comments or misrepresent our communities. Four decades ago when bigots like Imus started his radio career, communities were silent in the face of this type of racism. MPAC applauds these news networks for recognizing the negative effects of hateful rhetoric.